Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Jeremy Taiwo returns to Seattle area to train for Rio berth (and announces fundraising campaign)...

When we last saw Jeremy Taiwo (left/photo by Paul Merca), he was fighting his way through a left knee injury at the world championships in Beijing that ultimately knocked him out of the competition after the discus portion of the decathlon, after languishing in 12th place after the first day of the two-day event.

In the mixed zone afterwards, he sounded down, and generally bummed out at dropping out of his second straight world championship decathlon, telling reporters, "It was a tough decision, and one I didn't want to make. It was a battle between my will to finish, and my instinct for what my future may be. I'm still trying to figure out what I want to do [indoors]. I would be ecstatic if the USA chose me to represent my country, especially since it's in the Northwest. But if I'm not chosen, it will impact how I work towards making the Olympic team. A million things are running around in my head. But I just need to get home, take time off, feel healthy. And see if I want to start this journey."

That time off for the Newport HS and University of Washington alum included going home to the Seattle area to visit his parents Joseph (a two-time Nigerian Olympian in the triple jump) & Irene, and ponder his next move in the run-up to what hopefully will be a spot on the US Olympic team in Rio next summer.

During that time, he consulted with Seattle Seahawks team physician Edward Khalfayan, after consulting with others about his knee issues.

He also made the decision to leave the US Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, California, where he had resided since the end of 2013, and the multi-events training group headed by coach Kris Mack, and return to Seattle and reunite with UW coaches Pat Licari and Atanas Atanassov, who guided him to his first world championship team in 2013.

In addition to training with the UW multi-events group, Taiwo will have two-time US Olympian and Washington alum Duncan Atwood coach him in the javelin, along with former Husky baseball player Daniel Jahn as his strength and conditioning coach at Maximum Sports Conditioning in Bellevue.

Barring an injury or withdrawal by either reigning world record holder Ashton Eaton or US outdoor champ Trey Hardee before the IAAF world indoor heptathlon championships in Portland in March (unlike the other events contested at the world championships, the multi-events are by invitation only based primarily on world rankings and finish order at world outdoors), Taiwo does not expect to compete at the world indoors, and will play his indoor campaign by ear, despite being the reigning USA heptathlon champ.

He does not yet know his competition schedule for the outdoor season leading up to the US Olympic Trials in Eugene (decathlon will be contested July 2-3), but stated he would like to return to Gotzis, Austria for the Hypo-Meeting,where he finished fourth in a personal best of 8303 points.

Despite being the reigning US indoor champion, and compiling the third best score by an American in 2015 (and #12 score in the world in 2015), Taiwo enters 2016 without the benefit of a sponsor, an advantage that Eaton and Hardee have with Nike.

Taiwo is making ends meet by working part-time at Dick’s Sporting Goods, through a US Olympic Jobs Opportunity program.  He, along with the support of several friends, have started a GoFundMe page to raise $15,000 to defray the costs of coaching, specialized shoes for each of the decathlon events, strength training, and travel.

To date, Taiwo has raised over $6500 since starting the page in mid-December.


Those interested in contributing and/or attending the Tamaleda event on January 9th can click the links above for more information.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Oregon's Jenna Prandini & Florida's Marquis Dendy win The Bowerman...

SAN ANTONIO, Texas—Oregon’s Jenna Prandini and Florida’s Marquis Dendy (above/photo by Paul Merca) were named the recipients of the Bowerman Award, given to the nation’s top collegiate track and field athlete at a ceremony at the JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort and Spa.

Prandini, a junior from Clovis, California, scored 49 points at both the indoor and outdoor championships for the Ducks, capped by victories indoors in the long jump and outdoors in the 100 meters.

Dendy, a senior from Middletown, Delaware, won both the long and triple jump titles indoors and outdoors, jumping 27-2 (8.28m) and 57-0 (17.37m) undercover and 27-8w (8.43m) and 57-5 (17.50m) outdoors in Eugene.

Dendy became only the second man in NCAA history to leap 57 feet or farther in the triple jump both indoors and outdoors (Mike Conley is the other).

Prandini’s 23 points scored indoors were the most scored by an individual since 2003, and her 26 tallied outdoors only trailed three-time Olympic champ Gail Devers and nine-time Olympic medalist Merlene Ottey in the record books.

The other finalists were Oregon’s Edward Cheserek and Akron’s Shawn Barber on the men’s side, and Stephen F. Austin’s Demi Payne and Kentucky’s Kendra Harrison.

Prandini is the fourth University of Oregon athlete to win The Bowerman, joining Galen Rupp, Ashton Eaton, and Laura Roesler.

Both winners are now competing as professionals.

NOTE:  The USTFCCCA contributed to this report.

Who I gave my Bowerman vote to...

SAN ANTONIO, Texas—I am back in San Antonio to attend the presentation of The Bowerman, given to the country’s most outstanding male and female collegiate track and field athletes of the 2015 season.

For the past several years, it’s been an honor and a privilege to be one of the national voting members of this award.  As I’ve stated, I do take this vote seriously, and I try not to have any regional biases or fan popularity sway my decision making.

All voting members of The Bowerman received their ballots in July, and had until August 11th to submit their ballots to the USTFCCCA, the organization that sponsors the event.  The most important caveat in voting is that performances made after the NCAA championships in Eugene, including meets such as the USA outdoors, Diamond League meets, the various foreign national championships, and even the IAAF world championships were not considered when making the vote.

I saw all six Bowerman Award finalists compete in person at least once, namely at the NCAA championships, though I did see Edward Cheserek of Oregon compete at the Pac-12 championships at UCLA, and Jenna Prandini of Oregon at the UW Preview.

MEN

The men’s vote was a slam dunk—I went with Akron’s Shawn Barber (left/photo by Paul Merca) over Florida long/triple jumper Marquis Dendy and Oregon distance runner Edward Cheserek.

Barber won both the indoor and outdoor NCAA titles in dominating fashion, setting a collegiate record of 19-4.75 (5.91m), and broke his own collegiate indoor record four times.  He cleared 19 feet (5.80m) more times last season indoors than all other collegians in history combined.

Despite having a bit of a scare early in the competition, Barber pulled through to win the national outdoor title.  After the NCAAs, the highlight for the Canadian was winning the world championship in Beijing, clearing 19-4.25 (5.90m).

WOMEN

I struggled with this, flip-flopping between Oregon’s Jenna Prandini (below/photo by Paul Merca) and Stephen F. Austin pole vaulter Demi Payne, though an argument could be made for Kentucky hurdler Kendra Harrison.

The question was whether Payne setting a collegiate record indoor and winning the outdoor title in the pole vault would trump the performance of Prandini, who carried the Ducks on her back.

Prandini’s 49 total points scored in both the indoor and outdoor championships, highlighted by wins in the long jump indoors and the 100m outdoors was just enough to trump Payne’s 13 wins and NCAA outdoor meet record in the pole vault.

An argument could have been made to give Kendra Harrison the second place vote over Payne, as she won both the indoor 60 and outdoor 100 meter hurdle titles, while Payne only won the NCAA outdoor title, losing the indoor crown to Arkansas’ Sandi Morris in an epic battle.

All six Bowerman Award finalists with the exception of Cheserek competed this summer at the IAAF World Track & Field Championships, with Barber winning and Prandini earning a relay medal.


The Bowerman Award ceremony will be live streamed on the USTFCCCA web site beginning at 4:20 pm pacific (6:20 pm central) Thursday night, hosted by 2010 Bowerman winner Queen Harrison and Flotrack’s Ryan Fenton, with ESPN’s John Anderson the MC of the ceremony.

The Bowerman Voters consist of national and regional media personnel, track & field statisticians, NCAA collegiate administrators, past winners, and Presidents of affiliated organizations. The Bowerman Voters represent 23 U.S. states and one U.S. territory.

In addition, USTFCCCA members collectively receive one (1) vote in The Bowerman voting. Fans also collectively receive one (1) vote in The Bowerman voting.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Heath wins USATF national club cross title, while Club NW women finish third...

SAN FRANCISCO—Garrett Heath (above/photo courtesy USA Track & Field) of the Seattle based Brooks Beasts won the men’s championship at the USA Track & Field National Club Cross Country Championships Saturday at Golden Gate Park.

Heath, who won the Great Edinburgh individual title earlier this year, took the title with a 29:06 clocking over the 10k course, winning by four seconds over Boulder TC’s Jonathan Grey.  

University of Portland alum Scot Fauble took third in 29:26, to lead the Hoka One One NAZ squad to the team title, as all five runners finished in the top 25.

Runners from the state of Washington who finished in the top 50 included Dorian Ulrey of the Brooks Beasts in 25th (30:16); Riley Masters of the Beasts in 27th (30:22); Seth Bridges of Club Northwest in 31st (30:26) and WSU grad Drew Polley of Club Northwest in 46th (30:50).

The Beasts finished sixth with 302 points, led by Heath, Ulrey and Masters, with Travis Burkstrand finishing 68th in 31:12, and Nick Symmonds rounding out the scorers in 219th in 33:21. For Symmonds, the two-time US Olympian and 2013 world championship silver medalist at 800m, this was his first cross country race since running for Willamette University in Oregon in 2005.

Also running for the Beasts Saturday was 2015 world championships team member Cas Loxsom, who was their final runner, crossing the line in 275th place in 34:07.

Club Northwest finished 17th with 433 points, while the Seattle Running Club was 27th with 788 points.

On the women’s side, Stanford alum Jessica Tonn of the Brooks Beasts was the top finisher from the state of Washington, placing 10th in the 6k race in 20:14, just ahead of her former teammate and Sequin HS alum Stephanie Dinius, who was 11th in 20:19.

Washington alum Mel Lawrence was 14th in 20:23, while Club Northwest’s Jamie Cheever was 21st in 20:34, and teammate Amber Schultz 34th in 20:48.

Emma Kertesz of Club Northwest was 44th in 21:01, while Gonzaga alum Lindsey Drake was 46th in 21:05, one second ahead of Hannah Fields of the Brooks Beasts in 47th.  SPU alum Jane Ricardi of Club Northwest was 50th in 21:11, the same time given to WSU alum Collier Lawrence in 51st.

In a close race, Amy Van Alstine of Hoka One One won the national title, running 19:51 to nose out Laura Thweatt by one second, with Rochelle Kanuho third in 19:53.

The Boston AA won the national title with 28 points, while Club Northwest finished third with 156 points, led by Cheever, Schultz, Kertesz, and Ricardi.  Former Western Washington All-American Katelyn Steen rounded out the CNW scorers, finishing 59th in 21:21.

The Seattle Running Club finished 25th with 696 points.


NOTE: USA Track & Field contributed to this report.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Peter Newing, the dean of UW track & field officials, passes away...

The state of Washington lost a leader in the track & field community on December 6th with the passing of Peter Newing (left/photo courtesy Newing family), the Godfather of track & field officials in the area, and one of the driving forces behind the formation of the Pacific Northwest Track & Field Officials Association.

Newing, who was born in Walton-on-Thames, United Kingdom on August 28, 1924, spent his childhood in the UK and India, and served in the British Royal Navy during World War II, working on minesweepers in the Far East and North Sea.  

After marrying Hazel Gerrard in 1948 in Wales, they had three children—Geoffrey, Deborah & Andrew, before moving to the USA in 1959, settling first in Ontario, California, before moving to Renton three years later, where he worked as a senior service engineer in the aerospace industry.

In 1965, Newing began officiating track meets as a head timer at high school meets, as well as meets hosted by the University of Washington.  In 1973, he began officiating at the Washington state high school track & field championships, and several years later, helped form the Pacific Northwest Track & Field Officials Association.  He was also instrumental in starting up the Renton School District All-City meet for its high schools

It was while he and his family were involved with the Washington track & field program that I got to know him, beginning with my freshman year at the UW in 1978 when I was a student manager on the men’s track team, and when I ran on the cross country team.  Pete was one of the timers when Henry Rono of Washington State broke the world record in the 3000 meter steeplechase at Husky Stadium, running 8:05.4 at the Northwest Relays meet on May 13,1978.

After graduating from the UW, I always knew that if I were at a track or cross country meet in the area, there was a better than even chance that I’d run into Pete, especially near the finish line.

I’ll miss Pete’s love and devotion towards the Husky track & field and cross country programs, regardless of whether you were a stud All-American or the lowliest walk-on.  He and his family touched the lives in some way, of countless UW track & cross country athletes, as well as the coaches and support staff.

He’s survived by wife Hazel, three children—Geoff, Andy, and Deborah—all of whom are involved in the local track & field community, as well as three grandsons, and sister Rosemary Stevenson.

Pete’s life will be celebrated Saturday December 12th at St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church, 4228 Factoria Boulevard SE in Bellevue at 2pm.

Pete, you now have the best seats in the house to watch the Huskies indoors at the Dempsey and outdoors on the purple Husky Track!

IAAF MODIFIES RIO QUALIFYING STANDARDS

The IAAF announced changes to the qualifying standards for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games Thursday in 17 events.

According to the IAAF, their technical delegates proposed amendments, with the aim being to have more athletes make the standard, and get closer to the target number of total participants in the track & field portion of the Olympics.

The most immediate and notable change to the standards is in the marathon, where the men’s standard is now 2:19. and the women’s is at 2:45.  The current qualifying standards for the US Olympic Marathon Trials in Los Angeles on February 13th is 2:18/2:43, a mark that is tougher than the IAAF standard.

The question of whether USA Track & Field will allow those runners who have times between 2:18 and 2:19 (2:43 and 2:45) during the quailfying period of August 1, 2013-January 17, 2016 into the Trials remains to be seen. paulmerca.blogspot.com has sent an email to USA Track & Field inquiring about this and are awaiting an official reply.  As discussed on letsrun.com, there is a provision in the Ted Stevens Amateur Sports Act that states that the standards for the Olympic Trials cannot be “…more restrictive than those of the appropriate international sports federation (in this case, the IAAF).”

The IAAF release and a link to the amended standards are available here.

UPDATE (9:15 am, December 11) :  USA Track & Field responded within the last hour on its web site by announcing that the entry standards for the US Olympic Team Trials-Marathon in Los Angeles on February 13th has been changed to reflect the IAAF standards. 

One beneficiary of the revised standard is Western Washington alum Bennett Grimes, who ran 2:18:47 during the qualifying period, according to a post on letsrun.com.  Under the old standard, Grimes would have been out.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Freshman Aaron Pullin wins Candy Cane heptathlon with second best score in EWU history...

CHENEY—Eastern Washington freshman Aaron Pullin (above/photo courtesy EWU Athletics) won the heptathlon at the Candy Cane Invitational at Jim Thorpe Fieldhouse on the campus of Eastern Washington University with the second best score in school history, compiling a final two day total of 4965 points to easily meet the qualifying standard of 4700 points for the Big Sky Conference indoor championships.

In the dual meet competition between the Eagles and Montana, the two teams split, with Montana winning the men’s meet 55-44, and Eastern winning the women’s competition by a 55-44 count.

Pullin, a graduate of Centralia HS who finished ninth in the decathlon at the USA junior championships in Eugene last summer, won the 55 hurdles in a time of 8.16 (793 points), as well as the pole vault, clearing 13-9.25/4.20m (673), and finished the day by running 2:57.67 in the 1000 for 687 points.

Aaron Cunningham of Eastern was a double winner in the weight & shot, throwing 51-0.75 (15.56m) in the weight, and 50-2 (15.29m) in the shot.

The throws also provided the Eagles with a double winner, with Kaytlyn Coleman winning both the weight and shot, throwing 47-3.5 (14.41m) in the shot, and 59-11 (18.26m) in the weight.  

Coleman earned qualifying marks for the Big Sky indoor meet with her wins

Though not a qualifying event, Katie Mahoney set a school record in the 600 meter run, winning in a time of 1:39.83, breaking the previous school & facility record of 1:40.57 set by teammate Janessa Day last year.

Mahoney later teamed with Berenice Penaloza, Johanna Sherman and Paula Gil-Echevarria to win the 4 x 800m relay in 9:39.28.  The Eagle men’s squad of Logan Stahl, Steven Bachman, Stephen Bottoms, and Dallas Snider won the men’s 4 x 800 in 8:14.06.


NOTE:  The sports information office at Eastern Washington University contributed to this report.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Kimes sets EWU pentathlon school record in winning at Candy Cane VIII...

CHENEY—Eastern Washington’s Jozie Kimes (above/photo courtesy EWU Athletics) kicked off the 2016 indoor track & field season by setting a new school record in the pentathlon at the Candy Cane VIII, contested at the Jim Thorpe Fieldhouse on the campus of Eastern Washington University.

Kimes, who was tenth in the heptathlon at last year’s Big Sky championship meet, eclipsed her previous personal best of 3359 points set at last year’s Candy Cane meet, and also broke the EWU school record of 3360 set by Christie Kight in 2002.

Kimes started the day by winning the 55 hurdles in 8.60 (886 points), and the high jump with a clearance of 5-5.25/1.66m (806).  She finished second in the shot with a toss of 32-7/9.93m (525), the long jump with a leap of 16-9.75/5.12m (592), and the 800m in 2:28.05 (718).

The Eagles’ Kendra Hamm finished second with a final score of 3256 points, highlighted by winning the long jump with a leap of 17-0.5/5.19m, worth 612 points.

In the men’s heptathlon, Eastern’s Aaron Pullin is the first day leader with a score of 2812 points, winning three of the first four events—the 55 in 6.62 (851), long jump in 21-5.25/6.53m (704), and the shot put in 39-5/12.01m (607), and finished second in the high jump at 6-0.5/1.84m (661).

The heptathlon concludes Saturday beginning at 9am, while the field events in the regular portion of the meet starts an hour later.  Running events get underway at 12:30pm, featuring dual meet scoring between the Eagles and the University of Montana.


NOTE:  The sports information office at Eastern Washington University contributed to this report.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

WWU's Guenther earns All-America status & leads Vikings to program-best 6th place finish...

While paulmerca.blogspot.com was frantically scrambling for options after a flight cancellation out of Louisville Saturday night, we neglected to post the results of the Division II and III championship meets Saturday in Joplin, Missouri, and Wausau, Wisconsin, respectively.

Here’s how it went:

In Joplin, Western Washington’s women’s team, which entered the championships ranked #8 in the country among Division II schools in the final USTFCCCA coaches’ poll, scored a program best with their sixth place finish Saturday, led by Taylor Guenther’s (left/photo by Paul Merca) 26th place finish, giving the junior from Vancouver’s Prairie HS All-American status.

Behind her, Tracy Melville finished 52nd (21:41), followed by Brittany Grant in 79th (22:02), Sara Taferre in 104th (22:15), while Lillianna Stelling rounded out the Viking scorers in 114th (22:20) to give the team 307 points.

"I am so proud of how the ladies raced today,” said WWU coach Pee Wee Halsell They worked so hard all season and today they left it all out on the course and made history. They ran hard, ran determined and the results show that. What a day to be a Viking!"

"I am so proud of Taylor to end her cross country career as an All-American," added Halsell. "She was the rock of our program and worked so hard to get this point. There was a lot of work that went into this and nobody deserves or earned it more than Taylor."

Seattle Pacific, the country’s #20 team, finished 14th, despite what senior Anna Patti described as a personally disappointing result for herself, as she was the Falcons’ top finisher in 62nd in 21:48.

Behind her was Sarah Macdonald (65, 21:51), Mary Charleston (99, 22:13), Hannah Calvert (128, 22:33), and Lynelle Decker (131, 22:35) to give SPU 398 points.

In a very tight finish, Alexis Zeis won the national crown, as the sophomore from the University of Mary (Bismarck, ND) ran 20:04 (20:03.4) to nose out Kendra Foley of Grand Valley State (Michigan), who ran 20:04 (20:03.7).

Adams State (Colorado) took the women’s team crown with a low score of 83 points.

In Winneconne, Wisconsin, just outside of Oshkosh, the Whitworth Pirates women’s team, ranked #14 in the final regular season poll, finished 20th with 507 points, led by Allison Wood’s 85th place finish in 22:17 for 6k.

Abrah Masterson on Cornell College won in 21:24, while Williams College won the national crown with 81 points.

In the men’s race, West regional champion Tyler Shipley of Puget Sound finished 102nd (25:33) and was the top runner from the state of Washington among the three D3 schools who had athletes qualified, as no school from the state qualified a team.


NOTE: Western Washington University, Seattle Pacific, and the University of Puget Sound contributed to this report.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Huskies dash to pair of historic top-ten finishes in Louisville...

LOUISVILLE, Kentucky—Washington’s Maddie Meyers (left/photo by Paul Merca) capped off her Husky career with an eighth place finish at the NCAA Cross Country championships at E.P. “Tom” Sawyer State Park Saturday to lead the Dawgs to a tenth place finish.

The senior from Seattle’s Northwest School positioned herself well early, working her way up from 25th place at the 2k split, to come in one place in front of Boise State freshman Brenna Peloquin from Gig Harbor.  Meyers was clocked in 20:04, with Peloquin a second behind.

Meyers earned the first top-10 finish by a Husky runner since Katie Flood finished seventh in the 2011 championship race.

“I thought if we just did our thing and took care of business that two top-10 finishes was a possibility,” said UW coach Greg Metcalf.

Washington’s scorers behind Meyers were Charlotte Prouse (78, 20:43), Katie Knight (95, 20:49), Anna Maxwell (107, 20:53), and Kaylee Flanagan (134, 21:04), as the Huskies finished with a final team score of 297.

Eastern Washington’s Sarah Reiter missed by six places and two seconds an All-America certificate, as she was 46th in 20:30.

“She went out there and got in the front of the pack. If the pace was slow, we wanted her to hang out a little bit for a smooth race. As soon as the leaders started to push the pace, we were going to back off of the pace and settle into a rhythm and she did that very nicely. Sarah was running right between 30th and 45th for most of the race which is exactly where we wanted her to be. Our goal for her was to finish right inside of the top 40 which is All-American finish and she almost did that today."

The Bulldogs of Gonzaga, making their first ever appearance at the national championships, finished 25th.  

WCC champ Shelby Mills led the Bulldogs, finishing 82nd in 20:45, followed by Jessica Mildes (139, 21:07), Jordan Thurston (142, 21:09), Maggie Jones (184, 21:28), and Amelia Evans (238, 22:18).

“We had pretty big goals going into the race and didn't finish quite how we wanted to, but honestly I am so proud of what we've done not only today, but all season long,” Mills said. “To place ahead of where we were ranked and to try to give a little bit of love to all of the underdogs was really rewarding. We ran with the best in the nation and came out with our heads held high. I can't ask for a better team to have both here and back in Spokane. We've definitely felt the Zag love!”

Heavily favored New Mexico won the national title with a low score of 49, followed by Colorado (129), Oregon (214), Providence (231), and NC State (264).

Notre Dame’s Molly Seidel took the individual crown, running 19:29.

In the men’s race, Washington finished eighth with 345 points, the highest placing by a Husky squad in the tenure of current Husky coach Greg Metcalf, despite a sub-par performance by senior All-American Tyler King, who was 40th last year, and fifth in the West Regionals in Seattle last week.

Izaic Yorks (left/photo by Paul Merca) and Colby Gilbert led the charge for the Huskies, earning All-America honors with Yorks 30th in 30:19, and Gilbert a second behind and two places back.

Andrew Gardner was 96th in 30:56, followed by Fred Huxham in 100th in 30:59, then Johnathan Stevens in 178th in 31:42.

“The guys, gosh, I feel bad, Tyler King has been such a great kid for us and had a great career, and just didn’t have it today,” said Metcalf. “But the rest of our guys, they ran fantastic to get eighth-place takes a lot of grit and determination, and to have two All-Americans in Izaic and Colby, Izaic being a miler and stepping up to be an All-American in cross country, and Colby coming through late in the season for us, it’s great for both of them. Then we had two guys, Andrew and Johnny, they passed about fifty people combined over the last two thousand meters to take us from 13th place into the top-10.

Washington State, making its first appearance at nationals since 2011, finished 26th with 547 points.

Sophomore Michael Williams led the way in 57th in 30:40.  John Whelan, the Cougs’ leading runner all season long, was 113th in 31:06.

Rounding out WSU’s five runners were Sam Levora in 151st (31:28), Nathan Wadhwani in 174th (31:39), and Chandler Teigen in 183rd (31:47).

Cougar coach Wayne Phipps said, “To be 26th in the nation, and then return everyone including only one junior shows we have a very bright future. Michael Williams fell early on and moved up from 200th to 57th which was very impressive. Our guys won't make any excuses but we had a pretty rough trip to get here. We left campus at 10:15 a.m. Wednesday and arrived at our hotel at 10 a.m. the next morning, after having to spend the night in the Atlanta airport. No excuses, but it probably wasn't the ideal pre-race preparation. Overall, I'm very proud of this group and very excited about their future.”

Gonzaga’s Matthew Crichlow finished 134th in 31:17 as the first runner from the school to ever qualify for the national championships.

“Last year, I was on the sidelines injured the whole cross country season, so I've come a long way in a year,” Crichlow said. “I wish I would have run a little better, but when I take a step back, it's been an honor to compete and represent Gonzaga this weekend. I'll only use this energy to get me fired up for track season."

Federal Way native and UW grad Meron Simon, competing for North Carolina State, finished 130th in 31:14.

Edward Cheserek of Oregon won his third straight NCAA title, running 28:46.  Syracuse won the men’s title with 82 points, followed by Colorado (91), Stanford (151), Oregon (183), and Iona (231).


NOTE:  The sports information offices of the University of Washington, Washington State University, Eastern Washington, Gonzaga, and the University of Louisville contributed to this report.

paulmerca.blogspot.com apologizes for the delay in posting, as we experienced a travel delay that forced us to drive from Louisville to Atlanta.  We are posting from Atlanta.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

The collegiate cross country season ends Saturday in Louisville, Joplin and Oshkosh...

The collegiate cross country season roars to a close Saturday, as Washington, Washington State, Gonzaga, Eastern Washington, Seattle Pacific, Western Washington, Whitworth, Puget Sound, and Pacific Lutheran will have teams and/or individual runners racing at their respective championships.

DIVISION I

The big schools will race at E.P. “Tom” Sawyer Park in Louisville, Kentucky, with Washington qualifying both squads, Washington State a men’s team, and Gonzaga’s women’s team qualifying for for the first time in school history.

Washington is one of seventeen schools to qualify both its men’s and women’s teams to the NCAA Championships, which has a field of 31 men’s and 31 women’s teams. The men are appearing for the second straight year, looking to improve on last year’s 20th-place finish, while the women have qualified for a ninth consecutive season, having placed 23rd last year. The men are now 11th and the women are #12 in the final coaches poll before nationals.

The Huskies are led by Izaic Yorks (left/photo by Paul Merca), their front runner for all but one race this season, and by All-American Tyler King, who broke through with his fifth place finish at the regionals in Seattle last week.

The Washington State men’s team makes their first appearance at the nationals since Pete Julian took the Cougars to the 2011 championships in Terre Haute, where they placed 21st. They're led by John Whelan, and Michael Williams, who finished second and third at the Seattle regionals to lead the #25 Cougars to a fourth place finish.  Both runners look to become the first to earn All-America honors since Bernard Lagat and Eric Kamau did so in 1998.

The Husky women's team makes its ninth straight appearance, and look to improve on their 23rd place finish last year, led by their All-American Maddie Meyers, who was third at the Seattle regionals. Meyers has been the Dawgs' top runner in all of their races, save for the opening race against SeattleU on September 1st.

For the Bulldogs of Gonzaga, Saturday marks the first time in school history that they’ve qualified a squad of either sex for the big dance.  The WCC champions are led by Shelby Mills, the senior from Snohomish who goes into the national championship full of confidence after a breakout 2015 season, where she qualified for the NCAA championships in the steeple last spring, won the WCC title, and finished seventh at the regionals.

Former Big Sky cross country champ Sarah Reiter of Eastern Washington and Gonzaga’s Matthew Crichlow will race as individual competitors.  Reiter finished ninth in the women’s race at the Seattle regionals, while Crichlow was 18th in the men’s race.  

Reiter, who attended Renton’s Lindbergh HS, is the fourth Eagle in school history to qualify for the national championship race, while Crichlow, a graduate of Meadowvale HS makes school history by becoming the first from Gonzaga to qualify.

Some key athletes with Washington ties to watch include Boise State’s Brenna Peloquin from Gig Harbor, who finished fourth in the Seattle regionals, and North Carolina State’s Meron Simon, as the UW grad, competing as a grad student for the Wolfpack, finished fourth in the Southeast regionals in Earlysville, Virginia.

Saturday’s NCAA Division I cross country championships at Tom Sawyer State Park will be webcast on ncaa.com beginning at 9am, pacific with the women’s 6k, followed by the men’s 10k at 10am.

DIVISION II

The Western Washington and Seattle Pacific women’s teams will represent the state of Washington in Saturday’s NCAA Division II championship in Joplin, Missouri.

The Vikings were second at the West Regionals on November 7th at Monmouth, Oregon, led by Taylor Guenther’s sixth place finish.  Western is currently ranked #8 in the final regular season USTFCCCA national coaches’ poll, the school’s second highest ranking since joining NCAA Division II.

Western looks to top their best finish at the nationals, which was an eighth place finish in 2009.

Seattle Pacific goes to Joplin on the heels of a fifth place finish in the Monmouth regionals, snatching the last spot to nationals away from Central Washington by five points.  The Falcons are led by season-long top runner Anna Patti, who was fourth in the regional championships.  

In their last appearance at the nationals, the Falcons finished 21st in Spokane in 2013.  They enter the national championships ranked #20 in the country.

The women’s 6k championship race gets underway at 8 am pacific time.

DIVISION III

The Whitworth Pirates will send a women’s team to the NCAA Division III championships in Oshkosh, Wisconsin on Saturday.

The Pirates earned their spot after finishing third in the NCAA West Regionals on November 14th in Claremont, California, led by Kellyn Roiko’s fourth place finish, running 21:53 for 6k.  Whitworth is ranked #14 in the final regular season USTFCCCA Division III poll.

On the men’s side, Tyler Shipley of Puget Sound won the West regional meet, running the 8k distance in 25:05.  Pacific Lutheran freshman Brad Hodkinson was fourth in 25:35, followed by Geremia Lizier-Zmudzinski of UPS in 25:50.

Whitworth’s Christopher MacMurray was 11th in 26:06.

All four runners were among the top seven individuals whose teams did not qualify for the NCAA championship race, as only the top two teams in each of the eight regional races advanced, along with 16 at large squads selected by the NCAA D3 committee.

All three NCAA championship races will be webcast on ncaa.com.  The NCAA and Prime Time Timing created a live results link to all three races, which can be accessed here.

paulmerca.blogspot.com will be in Louisville to cover the NCAA Division I championship races.

NOTE:  The University of Washington, Washington State University, Eastern Washington, Gonzaga, Western Washington, Seattle Pacific, Whitworth University, the NCAA, and the USTFCCCA contributed to this report.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Huskies' Greg Metcalf named USTFCCCA West Regional coach of the year...

NEW ORLEANS—The USTFCCCA Tuesday named University of Washington head coach Greg Metcalf (far left/photo by Paul Merca) as the West Region’s men’s coach of the year, as voted on by the coaches.

While he has won the regional coach of the year for the fifth time in his career, this award marks the first time Metcalf has won the men’s regional coach of the year.

The Husky men’s squad won the West Region title last Friday for the first time in school history, moving on to the NCAA Championships set for this Saturday in Louisville.

Hosting West Regionals at the Jefferson Park Golf Course, the Huskies were ready and willing to brave the rain and mud. Washington, ranked #17 heading into the race, put its entire top-five runners in the top-25, scoring 63 points to finish ahead of fourth-ranked Stanford which had 83, and seventh-ranked Oregon which was third with 99 points.

Washington is one of seventeen schools to qualify both its men’s and women’s teams to the NCAA Championships, which has a field of 31 men’s and 31 women’s teams. The men are appearing for the second straight year, looking to improve on last year’s 20th-place finish, while the women have qualified for a ninth consecutive season, having placed 23rd last year. The men are now 11th and the women are #12 in the final coaches poll before nationals.

Saturday’s NCAA Division I cross country championships at Tom Sawyer State Park will be webcast on ncaa.com beginning at 9am, pacific with the women’s 6k, followed by the men’s 10k at 10am.

WHITWORTH WOMEN OFF TO D3 NATIONALS

The Whitworth Pirates will send a women’s team to the NCAA Division III championships in Oshkosh, Wisconsin on Saturday.

The Pirates earned their spot after finishing third in the NCAA West Regionals on November 14th in Claremont, California, led by Kellyn Roiko’s fourth place finish, running 21:53 for 6k.  Whitworth is ranked #14 in the final regular season USTFCCCA Division III poll.

On the men’s side, Tyler Shipley of Puget Sound won the West regional meet, running the 8k distance in 25:05.  Pacific Lutheran freshman Brad Hodkinson was fourth in 25:35, followed by Geremia Lizier-Zmudzinski of UPS in 25:50.

Whitworth’s Christopher MacMurray was 11th in 26:06.

All four runners were among the top seven individuals whose teams did not qualify for the NCAA championship race, as only the top two teams in each of the eight regional races advanced, along with 16 at large squads selected by the NCAA D3 committee.


Like the Division I championship races, the Division III championship will be webcast on ncaa.com Saturday from Oshkosh starting at 9:00 am, pacific.

NOTE:  The University of Washington, Whitworth University, the NCAA, and the USTFCCCA contributed to this report.

Monday, November 16, 2015

NCAA West regional champ Washington ranked #11 in final regular season coaches' poll...

NEW ORLEANS—The Washington men’s cross country team, which scored a mild upset by winning the NCAA West Regional championship last week on their home course at Jefferson Park GC, moved up six spots to #11 in the final USTFCCCA Division I regular season cross country coaches’ poll in advance of Saturday’s national championship race in Louisville, Kentucky.

The Huskies won the title due in part to a breakthrough performance by senior Tyler King (left/photo by Paul Merca) as the 2014 All-American finished fifth at the regionals.

The #11 ranking gives the Huskies a share of its highest-ever rank in the USTFCCCA polls archive (1996-present).  Washington finished fourth in the 1989 NCAA championships, and its highest finish under coach Greg Metcalf was 12th in 2006.

Meanwhile, the Washington State Cougars, coming off a fourth place performance at the regionals, earned a #25 national ranking after not being ranked all season.

The top five teams in the country are Colorado, Syracuse, Stanford, Oklahoma State, and Michigan.

Other Pac-12 schools ranked include Oregon at #9. #27 Cal, and #28 UCLA, which gives the conference seven spots in Saturday’s national championship race.

The Washington women maintained its #12 national ranking after finishing third at the regional meet behind Oregon and Boise State.

WCC champion Gonzaga, which entered the regionals ranked #30 in the country, moved up three spots to a #27 ranking, a program best for the Bulldogs.

Gonzaga finished sixth at the regional championships, led by Shelby Mills’ seventh place finish.

The top five women’s teams according to the coaches’ poll are New Mexico, Colorado, Arkansas, Providence, and Oregon.

Other Pac-12 schools ranked in the final regular season poll include, #13 Stanford, and #21 Utah, giving the conference five schools in the final race Saturday.


Saturday’s national championship race begins at 9am with the women’s 6k, followed by the men’s 10k at 10 am.  Live video streaming of the NCAA championships will be available via ncaa.com.


She joins a Portland-based training group that includes Arizona alum Jennifer Bergman, who recently won the Geico Rock ’n Roll Half Marathon in Las Vegas, and Loyola Marymount grad Tara (Erdmann) Welling.

During the 2015 season, Fricker was training with Camas HS star Alexa Efraimson and her longtime coach Mike Hickey.  Fricker ran a personal best 2:00.81 at the USA nationals in her first year as a pro, after winning the NCAA D2 championship at Seattle Pacific in her 2014 personal best of 2:06.18.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Washington & Gonzaga women, WSU men, Reiter & Crichlow picked to compete at nationals...

INDIANAPOLIS—As expected, the University of Washington women’s cross country team, which entered the West regional championships Friday ranked ##12 in the nation, earned one of the 13 at-large bids to compete in next Saturday’s NCAA Division I cross country championships in Louisville, Kentucky.

Also joining the Huskies on the women’s side are the West Coast Conference champion and #30 Gonzaga Bulldogs, which will make its first appearance at the national championships, after finishing sixth in Friday’s regional championship at Jefferson Park Golf Course in Seattle, led by Shelby Mills’ (left/photo by Paul Merca) seventh place finish.

Eastern Washington junior Sarah Reiter was one of the four individuals from the West regional race to earn a spot in the championship meet by virtue of her ninth place finish.  Reiter becomes the first Eagle to qualify for the national championship race since Mattie Bridgemon in 2008.

"We're super stoked and so excited," Mills said. "We get to compete against the best of them, representing in the Zag jersey. We've come a long way but in the words of (Gonzaga women’s coach) Patty (Ley) `We ain't done yet'!"

Gonzaga’s sixth place finish behind San Francisco at regionals did not affect their standing in the eyes of the selection committee, as four other teams from the West region—Washington, Stanford, San Francisco, and Gonzaga—were picked to compete at the nationals.

San Francisco finished third in the WCC championships behind Gonzaga and BYU, but had a strong showing Friday in Seattle.

On the men’s side, the #17 Washington men, which won the West regional title, will be joined by the unranked Washington State Cougars, who finished fourth Friday, led by the 2-3 finish by John Whelan (left/photo by Paul Merca) and Michael Williams.

This marks the first time since 2011 that the Cougs have qualified for the national championships.

Besides auto qualifiers Washington and Stanford, five other teams from the West region—Oregon, Washington State, Boise State, Cal and UCLA—were selected to run in Louisville, a testament to the strength of the region.

Gonzaga’s Matthew Crichlow, who finished 18th at the regional championship, was selected as one of the four individuals not on a qualifying team from the West to run in Louisville.

Crichlow became the first ever Gonzaga male to qualify for the national championship race.

The University of Louisville will host the championships, Saturday, Nov. 21, at Tom Sawyer State Park located in Louisville, Ky. The women's race will begin at 9 a.m. Pacific Time, followed by the men's race at approximately 10 a.m. Pacific Time. A live webcast of the championships will be broadcast from 9 a.m. Pacific Time until the conclusion of the awards ceremony on NCAA.com.


NOTE:  The NCAA, USTFCCCA, and the sports information offices of the University of Washington, Gonzaga, and Washington State contributed to this report.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Washington men, Whelan, Williams, Mills & Reiter assured spots at nationals...

The Washington men's team won its first NCAA West Regional
cross country title (photo by Paul Merca)
SEATTLE--It was nasty. It was crappy. It rained sideways during the meet.

At the end of perhaps one of the most miserable cross country meets I’ve attended in my lifetime, the University of Washington men’s and women’s squads, plus several individuals with Washington ties, overcame the bad weather Friday afternoon to punch their tickets to Louisville, Kentucky for the NCAA Cross Country Championships in eight days.

Though the temperatures were around the low-to-mid 50s at the start of the women’s 6k race at noon, the wind and the rain made conditions at Jefferson Park Golf Course on Beacon Hill just plain nasty for the athletes, spectators, and officials at the NCAA West Regionals, turning parts of the course’s fairways into muddy sections.

The Husky men’s team won its first ever NCAA regional title, thanks in part to the efforts of Tyler King, Andrew Gardner, and Colby Gilbert, who finished fifth (31:09), tenth (31:20), and twelfth (31:22), while season long front runner Izaic Yorks was 14th in 31:26.

Soph Fred Huxham rounded out the Husky scorers with his 22nd place finish in 31:38, giving the Dawgs a 29-second 1-5 split.

While reigning NCAA champ Edward Cheserek of Oregon won the regional crown in 30:44, Washington State’s John Whelan did everything he could to make it difficult , leading for the first four laps of the 2-k loop before pulling away on the final lap, as Whelan finished in 30:55.

Eleven seconds behind Whelan was Cougar teammate Michael Williams in 31:06 to take third.

Sam Levora was 32nd in 31:53, Nathan Tadesse was 37th in 31:56, and Chandler Teigen was 51st in 32:07 as the Cougars scored just as big an upset as the Huskies by placing fourth with 125 points.

The top four teams were Washington (63), Stanford (83), Oregon (99), and Washington State (125), which puts the Cougars in the conversation for one of the coveted 13 at-large team spots to next week’s NCAA championship meet.

Washington and Stanford earned the two automatic team spots, while Oregon, which was ranked in the national top five for the entire regular season, should get in as one of the first at-large teams.  The Cougs should get into the national championship race, as they beat #20 UCLA (7th, 163), and #24 Boise State (5th, 137).

Gonzaga finished tenth with 253 points, led by Matthew Crichlow’s 18th place finish (31:31), while Eastern Washington was 18th with 551 points, led by Alex Kimsey, who was 90th in 32:55. Seattle University was 22nd with 647 points, led by Ben Monk in 110th in 33:27.

“Running 10k is all about being ready at the end of the season, and being strong and committed. Our guys went out today and just delivered. They were aggressive. To have five guys in the top-25 at this meet is just fantastic. To beat Stanford and Oregon and win the West is a huge deal for our guys and it’s a great momentum builder heading into Louisville next week,” said Husky coach Greg Metcalf.

WSU coach Wayne Phipps was just as excited as Metcalf at the prospect of going to Louisville.

The men were awesome and fourth in the toughest region in the nation is an incredible accomplishment. Michael and John ran brilliant races and their supporting staff battled the entire race which was a key in our team's success. Our work is not done; getting to nationals is just the first step as we have high expectations for ourselves in Louisville. We are much better prepared for 10km than 8km and it showed today. We will get up early tomorrow morning for our long run and be ready to roll in Louisville.”

In the opening women’s race, Gonzaga’s Shelby Mills (left/photo by Paul Merca) led early, with a large group including Washington’s Maddie Meyers patiently waiting behind.

Freshman sensation Allie Ostrander of Boise State pulled ahead on the final lap to win in 20:11, as Meyers took third in 20:38.  Gig Harbor native Brenna Peloquin of Boise State was fourth in 20:38.

Mills hung on to take seventh in 20:48, while Eastern Washington’s Sarah Reiter finished ninth in 20:54, followed by the Huskies’ Katie Knight in 21:00.

Behind Knight, Charlotte Prouse was 14th in 21:05, followed by Kaylee Flanagan in 33rd at 21:21, and Anna Maxwell in 45th in 21:31, as the Huskies finished third with 105 points.

Oregon won with 79 points to edge Boise State by one, with Stanford fourth at 121, despite not running Pac-12 champ Aisling Cuffe.

In a surprise, Gonzaga, which won the WCC title two weeks ago in Spokane Valley, finished sixth with 224 points behind WCC rival San Francisco with 182.  

Behind Mills were Jessica Mildes in 21st (21:10),  Jordan Thurston in 44th (21:31), Amelia Evans in 76th (22:03), and Maggie Jones in 78th (22:03).

At the WCC championships, the Dons finished third behind Gonzaga and BYU.

San Francisco’s fifth place finish may potentially put Gonzaga out of the national championship race, especially since Gonzaga only ran against nationally ranked teams at the Bill Dellinger Invite (Oregon), their own WCC preview meet (BYU), and the Washington Invite (Oregon, UW, Stanford, BYU), and did not travel to one of the major Midwest invitationals.

Eastern Washington, which had high hopes of possibly sneaking into the national championship conversation after a second place finish at the Big Sky championships, and a high finish at the Pre-Nationals meet in Louisville in October, finished a disappointing 12th with 344 points, one point and one place behind Washington State, who was led by CharLee Linton’s 47th place finish.

Reiter’s ninth place finish should advance her to the national championship race, marking the Eagles’ first qualifier since 2008 when Mattie Bridgmon did so.

Eagle coach Chris Shane said, "Sarah ran an exceptional race. We designed a racing plan for her and she executed it perfectly. I think she is going to represent Eastern Washington University very well at Nationals next week. Her ninth place finish is one of the highest we have had in the program. A ninth place finish at this meet is really something special and I think that she has got what it takes to go to the National meet and perform very well – I am looking forward to that."

Seattle University was 22nd with 604 points, led by Lila Rice in 101st in 22:20.

The official announcement of the thirteen teams that will advance to the national championships as at-large selections will be made Saturday at noon, pacific time at NCAA.com.  The Washington women’s team is expected to be one of the 13 squads, while the Gonzaga women and WSU men must wait, along with Matthew Crichlow of the Zags, who was 18th in the men’s race.


NOTE:  The sports information offices of the University of Washington, Eastern Washington, Washington State, and Gonzaga contributed to this report.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Michael Berry heads to Disney World for 2016 season...

Rainier Beach HS and University of Oregon alum Michael Berry (left/photo by Paul Merca) announced his move to Orlando, Florida to train for the 2016 season on his Facebook account.

I apologize if I left without a proper farewell...for those of you who don't know. I'M GONE!!! I made a business decision and now I'm living in Orlando. Florida.”

In a message sent by Berry to paulmerca.blogspot.com, he revealed that he will train at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports complex at Walt Disney World under former Stanford and US Olympic team coach Brooks Johnson, with former Olympic champion LaShawn Merritt as one of his training partners.

In the 2015 season, Berry trained in the Seattle area under his high school and Seatown Express coach Eric Metcalf.  

Berry advanced to the semifinals at the USA championships in the 400, where he finished second before being disqualified for a lane violation. Berry ran a season best of 45.13 in the first round at the national championships in Eugene.

Berry was also disqualified at the USA indoor championship meet in Roxbury Crossing, MA., in the 300m for a lane violation.  

The Rainier Beach HS grad ran a leg on the Team USA squad that set a world record in the distance medley relay of 9:25.97 on January 31st in New York.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Vikings and Falcons ranked by USTFCCCA in top 20 after qualifying for nationals...

NEW ORLEANS—Western Washington and Seattle Pacific (above/photo by Paul Merca) are ranked in the final USTFCCCA Division II national coaches’ poll released Wednesday after qualifying for the NCAA national championships over the weekend.

The Vikings, who were ranked #13 in the last poll released before the regional championship meet, moved five spots to #8 after finishing second at the NCAA regionals last week in Monmouth, Oregon, while Seattle Pacific  which had a sub-par team race at the GNAC meet in Bellingham and dropped out of the top 25, bounced back in the eyes of the voting members to rank #20 after taking the fifth and final spot to nationals, edging out Central Washington by five points.

The country’s top five women’s teams are Grand Valley State, Adams State, Hillsdale, Chico State, and Western State.

The only other team from the GNAC ranked is Alaska Anchorage at #12.

In the men’s poll, Alaska Anchorage at #3 and Simon Fraser at #15 are the only two teams from the GNAC that are ranked in the top 25.


The NCAA Division II championships will be contested on November 21 in Joplin, Missouri.

FLANAGAN’S PAN AM BRONZE UPGRADED TO SILVER?

University of Washington alum Lindsay Flanagan (left/photo courtesy University of Washington) finished third in the Pan Am Games marathon back in July in Toronto, as she ran 2:36:30 in only her second race at that distance.

However, according to a note posted in the December 2015 issue of Track & Field News, Gladys Tejada of Peru, who won the race in a personal best 2:33:03, tested positive for a diuretic afterwards.

Pending whatever official actions necessary from either the Peruvian federation and/or the IAAF, Flanagan would be upgraded to silver, with Adriana Da Silva of Brazil getting the victory in 2:35:40, and Rachel Hannah of Canada bumped up to third in 2:41:06.

According to Track & Field News, Tejada is provisionally suspended, pending official action after a positive result.

During her time at the University of Washington, she competed in three NCAA cross country championships, and was a second-team All-American in the 10000 in 2014.  She is currently training for the 2016 US Olympic marathon trials in Los Angeles in February.

NCAA West Regionals at Jefferson Park GC to decide who goes to Louisville...

The team race between WCC champs Gonzaga (above) and
Big Sky runner-up Eastern Washington is one of the
most intriguing of Friday's NCAA West Regionals
(Paul Merca photo)
For all five of the state’s Division I schools, the Jefferson Park Golf Course in Seattle’s Beacon Hill is the final stop before the NCAA cross country championships in Louisville, Kentucky on November 21st, as the University of Washington hosts the NCAA West Regional championships.

Both Washington squads go into the West Regionals nationally ranked, with the men’s team coming in at #17, while the women are ranked #12.

The real drama happens in the first race of the day at noon, as three of the state’s five Division I schools have realistic shots at getting their women’s squads qualified for the national championships over the 6k distance.

Assuming that the Washington women, which finished fourth at the Pac-12 championships in Colfax, can run close to what they did two weeks ago, the Huskies should advance to the national championships, due to a strong schedule that saw them finish second in their own invitational, eighth at the adidas Wisconsin Invite, and the Pac-12s against nationally ranked competition.

The top two teams from each of the nine NCAA regional races Friday  automatically advance to the NCAA championships, meaning that 13 teams will be added to the field Saturday when the NCAA committee makes its final decisions based on a formula that uses strength of schedule and what ranked teams you’ve beaten during the regular season.  Additionally, the top four individuals not on a team that advances to nationals will move on, assuming they finish in the top 25.


One of the most intriguing battles is the one between Gonzaga and Eastern Washington for what could be one of the final spots to Louisville.

The Zags, who are ranked #30 in the final regular season poll, won the West Coast Conference title on a tiebreaker two weeks ago in Spokane Valley over #24 BYU, while the Eagles finished second at altitude in the Big Sky championship race in Cedar City, Utah.

Gonzaga’s faced Oregon and BYU twice, and finished sixth at the Washington Invitational, beating Eastern Washington. 

Conversely, Eastern Washington beat Gonzaga in dual meet scoring at the Clash of the Inland Northwest in early September, finished seventh in the Washington Invitational, and 13th at the Pre-Nationals meet in Louisville, which may be significant in the eyes of the selection committee, as Gonzaga’s only major invitational was the Washington Invitational.

Bottom line—for either Gonzaga or Eastern Washington to have a chance to advance to nationals, they must beat each other, run close to one of the big four teams in the regionals—Oregon, Boise State, Stanford, and Washington, and hope for a bit of luck based on the results from the other eight regional races Friday.

In the men’s 10k race that gets underway at 1pm, assuming that Washington runs the same race that they ran two weeks ago, the Huskies should advance to the nationals, most likely as an at-large team.

The top six teams in the final West Regional rankings are Stanford, Oregon, Washington, UCLA, Boise State, and Washington State.

The Cougars could make things interesting if at least three of their runners can run up front close to Michael Williams and John Whelan, which is easier said than done, as all of their listed entries behind Williams and Whelan are freshmen with the exception of sophomore Sam Levora.

Washington State, which upset the Huskies in September at the Sundodger Invitational, will have its hands full with the likes of UCLA, Boise State, Cal, and Portland in the mix, and will probably need to beat those teams convincingly.  On paper, Stanford, Oregon and Washington are head and shoulders above the rest of the field.

Here are the links to each of the school’s pre meet previews (click on the name of each school):






Sunday, November 8, 2015

Vikings & Falcons earn spots in D2 nationals, while Central falls short...

MONMOUTH, Oregon—The Western Washington and Seattle Pacific women’s teams earned spots to compete in the NCAA Division II cross country championships on a wet Saturday at the Ash Creek Preserve course.

The Vikings, who were second at the GNAC championship meet two weeks ago in Bellingham, finished second with a score of 165, behind winner Chico State’s 89 points.

In a very close battle for the final three women’s spots, GNAC champ Alaska Anchorage was third with 201, followed by Cal Baptist with 203, and Seattle Pacific with 207, nosing out Central Washington, which had 212 points.

Seattle Pacific’s Anna Patti (left/photo by Paul Merca) was the top finisher from Washington’s four GNAC schools, finishing fourth over the 6k course in 21:16.

Western’s Taylor Guenther was sixth in 21:22, while All-American Dani Eggleston of Central was 13th in 21:37.

All five of Western’s scorers finished in the top 60, with a 1-5 split of 68 seconds.

Behind Guenther were Tracy Melville (26th, 21:59), Brittany Grant (27th, 22:00), Shawna Troupe (49th, 22:21), and Lillianna Stelling (58th, 22:30).

“The women ran a great race by placing second and I really think we have more left in the tank as we head to Nationals. I am very proud of them,” said Viking coach Pee Wee Halsell.

For Seattle Pacific, the difference maker was second runner Mary Charleston, as the sophomore ran the race of her life to finish 20th in 21:49.  

Also scoring for the Falcons were Sarah Macdonald (42nd, 22:12), Hanna Calvert (72nd, 22:42), and Chynna Phan (73rd, 22:44).

"At our team meeting last night, all we talked about was just putting it all out there and crossing the finish line and falling on your knees," said Falcon senior Lynelle Decker, who now will race in her third national championship meet. "I knew I was doing that, I knew the team was doing that. So even if we hadn't made it, I knew it was all put out on the course today."

Decker was their sixth runner across the line in 22:45.

After Eggleston, Central’s scoring runners were Megan Rogers (18th, 21:47), Alexa Shindruk (33rd, 22:06), Stephanie Rexus (69th, 22:41), and Erin Chinchar (82nd, 22:48).

Saint Martin’s was 19th with a team score of 542, led by Karen Horvath in 22:15.

Joyce Chelimo of Alaska Anchorage won the women’s race in 20:43.

In the men’s 10k race, the Vikings finished sixth with 194 points, as Alaska Anchorage (55), Chico State (79), Cal Poly Pomona (81), and Simon Fraser (107) earned the four qualifying spots for the national championships.

Western was led by Andrew Wise (14th, 30:23), followed by Sean Eustis (28th, 30:47), Isaac Decline (46th, 31:27), Matthew Lutz (47th (31:27), and Max Romey (59th, 31:40).

By not finishing in the top four at regionals, the Vikings snapped a streak of eight straight seasons qualifying for the NCAA championship race.

Henry Cheseto of Alaska Anchorage continued his dominance, winning the race in 29:30.

Central Washington finished 14th with 400 points, led by Jonathan Lafferty in 53rd with a time of 31:34.  Seattle Pacific was 20th with 557, as Ben Halladay was 99th in 32:35.  Saint Martin’s was 23rd with 656 points, with Jasper Heckman leading the way in 125th in 33:24.


NOTE:  The sports information offices of Western Washington, Seattle Pacific, and Central Washington contributed to this report.

Blog Archive